How can I install a layer of management?

I need to install a layer of key management staff in marketing, sales and finance departments. I don’t feel my young motivated staff – who have been brilliant so far – yet have the skills for senior positions or experience of the issues the business is now facing. I intend to headhunt and expect to pay considerable salaries for the right people. How do I ensure I get value for money and that the whole process doesn’t upset and demotivate my existing employees?


A. Alysoun Stewart of Grant Thornton writes:

This is never an easy situation to manage. Many ownermanagers, out of loyalty to their existing team or fear of recruitment, take what they believe to be the easy option and tailor their structure around existing resources. At the other extreme, some fastgrowth companies, as a matter of policy, change their management every two years or so in order to retain the essential dynamism that drives exponential growth. By articulating the question, however, you have already crossed the major hurdle and recognised the issues at stake.

Your first task is communication to your existing employees. I am assuming that the need for new skills has been identified as part of a strategic review. You will therefore have a clear view of the objectives of the business that have been translated into a series of critical success factors and key performance indicators. This plan needs to be communicated to your current workforce, as does their role in its achievement. This acts as a powerful motivator by setting an exciting agenda for future growth and binds in existing employees.

The question of how to achieve value for money from your recruitment doesn’t, sadly, come with any easy answers. Recruitment is a risky and expensive business. You should:

… Spend time thinking and planning. Make sure that the job specifi cation is clear and detailed – don’t cut corners or leave elements to be worked out later. Think about every aspect of the role and how you wish it to fit into your structure.

… The person specifi cation is just as important as the role and its responsibilities. What sort of person are you looking for to join your business, what attributes do they need in order to fit in and be successful? You may wish to consider employing psychometric tools to gain a better understanding of your current team dynamic and therefore a clearer identification of the type of attributes needed to enhance it.

… Ensure the headhunter you engage spends time in the business so that they have a real feel for who you are and the people you need.

… Take time over the interview process. It is almost impossible to make an informed judgement after only a few hours with someone. Get your shortlisted candidates into your business for a while, make sure that they spend time with your existing key employees, and take feedback – candidates often behave very differently with potential colleagues from how they will act with you.

… Don’t compromise. Trust your gut instincts – they are usually right.

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